The increasingly militarized conflict between Western military alliance NATO and Russia has compelled Finland to boost its own defenses and acquire new weapons, according to the commander of the country’s armed forces.
Finnish Defense Chief General Jarmo Lindberg said Wednesday that the increased military activity in the region prompted Helsinki to rethink prior defense cuts and commit to expanding its forces, including procuring new weapons and equipment. Finland has been one of the few Western European countries that hasn’t sought membership in NATO, but its troubled relationship with neighboring Russia worsened after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, which prompted an escalation in NATO’s mobilization in recent years.
“The overall military activity in the neighborhood of Finland has been growing. Russia, as we all know, has been active ever since Crimea. NATO has brought on forces to the Baltic states, and in Poland it has forward presence. There is a U.S. Marine Corps unit in Norway. Sweden has brought the forces back to the island of Gotland, and they also ran a huge national exercise—19,000 soldiers—this September,” Lindberg told Defense News.
“So overall military activity all around Finland has been growing for the last four, five years. That means that also we are in a situation where we have been analyzing our military capabilities, our military readiness—and based on our analysis, it is changing. So more reserve, it is better readiness and it is better spearheading of capabilities for all the services,” he added.
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